Preconception care: What to do before conceiving

Preconception care is an important step in ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

Preconception care is an important step in ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

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What you need to know:

  • Preconception care is important for both men and women.
  • It can help ensure a healthy pregnancy by reducing the risk of birth defects and complications.
  • If you have any chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, work with your healthcare provider to manage them before you get pregnant.

Are you planning to conceive in the near future? If so, it is important that you start taking steps to prepare your body for pregnancy.

Preconception care is the medical and lifestyle care you receive before becoming pregnant. It ensures you're as healthy as possible before you conceive. It also enables you to understand how your health and lifestyle choices might affect your pregnancy. 

By optimising your health and wellbeing pre-pregnancy, you will give yourself the best chance at a healthy, successful nine months. So, what can you do to get ready for the baby?

Get assessed

It's important that you get assessed by a doctor before trying to conceive. This visit is an opportunity to talk about your health history and any potential risks that could affect your pregnancy.

You can ask any questions you have about getting pregnant such as how to chart your cycle or what to expect during pregnancy.

You can talk to the doctor about family planning methods, sexually transmitted diseases, and genetic testing during the visit.

The doctor will likely do a physical exam and order some lab tests. These tests can help identify any underlying health conditions that could affect your ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term.

Achieve healthy weight

When your body mass index is below 18.5, you may have difficulty conceiving. On the other hand, if you are overweight, it can lead to insulin resistance, which can make it harder to conceive. So, if you're trying to get pregnant, aim for a healthy weight. This may require making some lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

If you're not sure what your healthy weight is, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine if you need to lose or gain weight and create a plan.

Take folic acid supplements

Folic acid is essential in preventing congenital disabilities. The best way to ensure you're getting enough folic acid is to start taking a supplement at least one month before conception. You can also get folic acid by eating foods fortified with it, such as cereals, loaves of bread, and pasta.

Avoid substance use

It's important to avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs when trying to conceive. These substances can affect your fertility and increase your risk of miscarrying. If you're struggling to give up these habits, talk to your doctor for help.

Avoid harmful environmental exposures

There are certain environmental exposures that can be harmful to a developing baby. These include lead, mercury, and radiation. If you work with these substances or are exposed to them in your home, talk to your doctor about how to protect yourself during pregnancy.

Get counseling

If you have a history of mental health issues or struggling to cope with the stress of trying to conceive, seek counseling. A counselor can help you manage your mental health and give you tools to cope with the challenges of fertility treatment.

If you have had a miscarriage or stillbirth, counseling can help you process your grief and give you support as you try to conceive again.